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Ujjayi Breath -by Ash Adams-
Ujjayi breathing can be defined as victorious breathing, where breath is inhaled through ones nose whilst the mouth remains shut. A technique I find very helpful to promote and encourage correct ujjayi breathing takes place, is by imagining with your mouth closed you’re swallowing or drinking air through the mouth. As described in the literature too.. It really works.
This technique is used to heat the body and keep the mind focused as we advance into asana practice. And by allowing breath to flow freely throughout our body we can start to purify the physical body ultimately purifying and calming the mind and the nervous system.
And by breathing ever deeper and louder we aim to focus our attention internally freeing ourselves of external stimulus and distractions. With effective sounds produced from ujjayi breathing and executing fully it can really support the minds concentration and prohibit the mind wandering. This keeps bringing you back inline with your purpose and intention of practice.
It is one the most important aspects of practising well, as the breath is the link between body and mind..
If my students had to ask me What is Ujjayi Breath? -by Lizaan Jacobs-
I would say it’s the Lottery Breath, but in the Yoga world it’s the Victorious Breath or the Psychic Breath.
The Best Breath. The most important tool, prop, or friend you can have with you on your mat.
The one thing that connects you / us to our own practise, every pose, every transition and every thought that we have in our minds.
The only thing that allows you to still your mind and bring awareness inwards. The way you will lose the thoughts of what is going on around you and what is happening in your life, bring your focus to the present, just you and your practise.
I would tell them it will be one of the toughest part of the practise in terms of trying to achieve this very wonderful Ujjayi breath consistently and being aware of it for the full extent of the practise.
It’s the breath that makes you effortless in the pose if you can engage it. Breathing in such a way that you feel that its helping you deepen into the pose. It can allow you to recover from a hard pose or making the transition easier whilst you moving in your practise.
It’s the strong energising breath that allows you to maintain stamina and concentrate, whatever the level of difficulty or transition is, you always want to maintain Ujjayi Breath as it will guide and help you.
You always want to listen to the rhythm of the breath whilst you in the pose, this will be a challenge, but it will teach you things. Show you things you never thought was possible. It will challenge you in poses that you twist, do backbends and coming out of hands stands and pincha.
Not having Ujjayi Breath is like deciding on what kind of engine you want to have inside your body. You can either be a little Fiat running a 1300 engine or you can be a 1967 Mustang with a V12 engine.
The difference will be the power, the distance and the longevity you will have for the practise and the focus you will be able to create around being in the moment of every part of the class and on your matt. It’s your best friend. It’s a little noisy, but it’s a beautiful sound that always reminds you when you not breathing and when you not running on Yogi Gas.
the PRACTICAL TEACHER in me
They way you want to engage it physically is by;
- Contracting your throat, larynx slightly.
- Think of Buddha, his smiling relaxed face, you want to have that facial expression with Ujjayi.
- Breath into the back of your throat, always through your nose, gently.
- Breath with awareness in order for you to feel your Ujjayi breath moving. Because we work in counts of 4 or 5 breath counts, this is how you want to practise the actual Breath along with the Pose. Practising different forms of Pranayamas will get you there faster, in terms of understanding your practise and how important your Ujjayi breath is. Pranayamas is a way we can train our breath to become Victorious.
- We always talk about breathing into the back of the body and exhaling into the front of your body.
- Be gentle yet powerful with that inhalations and exhalations. Try not to be forceful and anxious.
- You want that breath leaving you and coming into you with the same amount of awareness.
What I always find helpful is when I maintain Dhristi. If I’m practising Dhristi with awareness, I find Ujjayi Breath to come easier, the practise & Ujjayi becomes more focused . We hear when we breathing or not, but you need to be conscious about what the intention is, which is the Breath. It’s almost as if Dhristi brings me to the centre of my practise, I have more awareness for the pose and my breath. This is something we all need to figure out, and you will if you set the intention. I found the 30 minute Sun Salutation practise and counting in fours was really powerful for the awareness you need to carry, hopefully I will be doing that one with my students. Jamie said; wisdom, patience and time on your matt. That’s what you need to do; find your way around practising your Ujjayi Breath, Dhristi and Bhanda’s….they are your three biggest friends when you get on your mat and you want to have them work for you and with you.
So how will you know if you are breathing?
- It’s the beginning of the BBQ
- little sweat on your back
- you have the ‘sound of the sea’ in your mind and the breath is alive
- inhalation will be more challenging in the beginning so this will be the 1st place you lose it.
NOTE TO SELF: Once you go into the seated series, be careful due to your mind and body being exhausted from all the strength and stamina in standing, that you’ve lost your focus on Ujjayi due to your heart rate coming down, so you not paying attention to keep the momentum and rhythm of your Victorious breath. Dhristi also seems to lose it’s place on the matt for me. I tend to be looking around and ‘stuff’ starts entering my mind. Once seated we heading for twists, backbends, hands stands and bhanda’s, and I think this is where you can either totally evolve if you have your best friends working for you, or you can completely get caught up in Chitta.
Things for me to do as the Teacher
Ideas around creating students to become aware of Ujjayi Breath – practical sessions;
- Sit in lotus, relaxed, close your ears and breath for five counts and listen to your own inhalation and exhalation. Observe the sound, the depth and consistency.
- Team people up and allow for them to listen to each other, hear how the Ujjayi breath looks and sound in others. Listen for consistency, count period of 4. The inhalation and the exhalation wants to be the same in energy.
Pranayama Pranayama and Pranayama!
Bringing you inwards and creating focus and energy, to the mind and the body. It warms us up, but it calms the central nervous system. The breath gives life to the body and the body gives life to the mind.
- The breathing out of your mouth and inhaling through your nose. Five counts, 1 minute, whatever the time you feel is necessary, inhaling with the mouth and exhaling through the nose.
- Bhastrika Pranayama has been a very meditative, restorative and energising form of practising the Ujjayi breath for me, but there are many forms of Pranayamas we can do for our Ujjayi Breath and improving our practise.
Ujjayi Breath: Breathing brings life and vitality! -by Prachi Sarikwal-
Ujjayi breath or “victorious breath” is the victory on your mind through your breathing procedure. It helps in heating toning the body and keeping your mind steady. Ujjayi breath in association with asanas would aid in achiving and reaping the full benefits of the postures.
Ujjayi breath is easy to practice and very beneficial. Breath through your nose with throat contracted and mouth closed. Inhale and exhale deeply while creating a hissing sound and feel you breath through the throat and nose. Deep breathing would relaxe and heat up the body and aid in seamless flow from one asana to another. Hissing sound would keep you focussed and prevent your mind from wandering which would help in reaping the full benefits of the asanas. Flow of oxygen through your body detoxifies and removes all impurities and wandering thoughts.
Ujjayi breath is key principle in ashtanga yoga discipline and control over breath an essential tool for the yogi!
Ujjayi Breath -by Amy Scott-
Ujjayi breath, victorious breath, is the essence of yoga. It is it’s heartbeat. The metronome to your practice. It should be like the ‘wind in the trees’ or the ‘distant ocean’. Steady, even and calm, it builds the internal heat, helping get the body warm in order to bend and stretch. It oxygenates the blood, tones the lungs and moves prana, whilst calming your entire nervous system. Without it a practice is simply movement but not yoga.
A method to start hearing it for yourself is to put your fingers in your ears and inhale through your nose. The back of your throat should be slightly constricted. Now exhale through your nose. Each breath should be to the count of four with a small pause (kumbhaka) at either end, keeping the mouth closed. Make your breath even, full and steady for both inhalations and exhalations. Repeat 3-5 times.
Another method is to stand at the front of your mat and close your eyes.
- Inhale through the mouth to the count of four, pause (kumbhaka) then exhale through the nose to the count of four, kumbhaka. Repeat 3 times.
- Then inhale through the nose, to the count of four, kumbhaka. Exhale through the mouth. The mouth being open making a ‘hhaaa’ sound. Kumbhaka. Repeat 3 times.
- Next inhale through the nose to the count of four, kumbhaka. Exhale through the nose, count to four, kumbhaka. Repeat 3 times.
All the time keep the back of the throat slightly constricted and listen for the even sound of the ‘distant ocean’.
This instruction would point students in the right direction if they had never heard of, or experienced ‘Ujjayi’ breath. They would hopefully start doing it for themselves after following the words and example.
Ujjayi Breath -by Daniela Olds-
Ujjayi means victorious. Its used in Yoga to heat the body, to build the energy, to bring the concentration into practise and to release toxins from the system.
To start practising ujjayi breath its best to close the eyes and sometimes it helps to close the ears to fully concentrate on the technique. It consists of the balance of deep inhalations and deep exhalations with the focus on the “hissing sound”. The breath comes in from the deep inside belly and the throat muscle is tightened.
For me its best to imagine the sound of the sea. It helps to silently count from 1 – 4 to control the breath. It is important that the length of the inhale matches the length of the exhale. .
The breath should be smooth, natural and not over-done. It brings focus into the practise and helps to calm the mind, carries the asana and the vinyasa flow.
Ujjayi Breath :: Ocean Sound, Victorious Breathing or Ujjayi Pranayama Technique -by Vanessa Soares-
Ujjayi breath is a controlled, rhythmic & thoracic breath that requires you to gently tighten the glottis muscle of the throat. You will feel a whispering sound or slight vibration in the back of the throat when you are breathing correctly. This sound is a great way to stay connected to your breath, offering an anchor to the present moment. When performing Ujjayi breath you inhale and exhale through the nostrils (keeping your mouth closed), only it should not sound nasally but rather like a wave washing across the shore. Allow your chest to expand and deflate under a slow intake and release of the breath. The challenge is to maintain the same quality of breathing throughout your asana practice. This may take some time to master but it is a process of focusing your awareness back on your breath whenever it drifts away. The breath is also a great barometer of the right intensity for us to practice at. If you are unable to remain aware of your Ujjayi breath or unable to perform Ujjayi breath because you are pushing yourself, then this would be a good indicator to lower the intensity of your practice until you feel that rhythmic flow again. This style of breathing is also a great way of building the vital energy in the body, creating heat from inside and once you achieve that, even if you have stiff muscles and other issues, they will feel less, and your practice will be more fruitful.
Inhalations and exhalations are both done through the nose, and are equal in duration. They are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner. During inhalation, the diaphragm lowers (the Buddha belly rises) allowing the practitioner to take in more oxygen. During exhalation, the diaphragm rises, and the abdominal muscles are contracted, allowing for a more complete exhalation.
It’s recommended working on your Ujjayi breathing in a seated, relaxed cross-legged position. Imagine sipping the breath in through a straw. If the suction is too strong the straw collapses and great force is required to suck anything through it. Once you are comfortable using Ujjayi breathing in a seated position, bring this same quality of breathing into your yoga class.
According to Yoga Journal, Ujjayi breathing helps calm the brain, slows and smooths the quality of your breath, and promotes mental clarity and focus by stimulating the energy channels at the back of the throat.
Begin by breathing out through the mouth with a throaty “ha” sound, as if you are fogging up a mirror. Imagine that your breath is passing through a hole in your throat. Inhale the same way, then close the lips and try to replicate that quality of breath in the throat. Begin with 5 to 8 minutes of practice and then gradually increase your practice time.
PS – Sometimes when students are first learning this breath, their throats become scratchy or slightly sore after a while. Do not be discouraged. There is no need to keep going past discomfort. Practice often and for short periods of time, and your throat will soon get used to breathing in this manner. If your throat is sore, you are not doing it correctly. It is a very gentle sobbing sound that should not strain your throat in any way.
Ujjayi Breath -by Shweta Thakur-
Ujjayi breath is also called by names like conqueror breath,cobra breath,and victorious breath.It means breathing or inhaling and exhaling through your nose keeping the duration of both same.It creates heat in the body and this heat helps to release all of the toxins from mind and body.This breath is especially important during transition into and out of asanas (postures), as it helps practitioners to stay present, self-aware and grounded in the practice, which lends it a meditative quality.
How to practice ujjayi breathing:-
Inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly through a wide-open mouth. Direct the out-going breath slowly across the back of your throat with a drawn-out HA sound. Repeat several times, then close your mouth. Now, as you both inhale and exhale through your nose, direct the breath again slowly across the back of your throat.ideally this will create a soft hissing sound.Remember to say “saaaa” to yourself as you inhale and as you exhale say “haaaa”
It helps to slow the breath down (which is exactly what we want for Ujjayi), to focus awareness on the breath and prevent your mind”wandering,” and to regulate, by continually monitoring and adjusting the evenness of the sound, the smooth flow of breath.
Benefits of ujjayi breathing:-
- Supplies sufficient amount of oxygen to the muscle to perform different asanas.
- Keeps the mind calm yet focussed on your breath.
- Reduces mental anxiety and cures insomnia.
- It helps to warm up the body and prepare the body to perform asanas.
- It strengthens the nervous and digestive system.
- Develops stamina and builds endurance.
- Detoxifies body.
- Allows you to focus on your bandhas.(uddiyana bandha becomes easy to engage with each exhalation).
Ujjayi Breath -by Ben Aldridge-
Breath is an important part of ashtanga vinyasa yoga, with the breath linking together the asanas. However it is performed with a particular type of breathing which is known as ujjayi breath (victorious breath).
Ujjayi is a means of regulating the flow of breath in and out of the body and Sri K Pattabhi Jois used to call it ‘breathing with sound’. The distinctive sound of ujjayi breath is produced by a partial closure of the glottis during whilst breathing in and out. It is not only the sound produced which differentiates ujjayi breath from the way in which we tend to breathe in normal life. When breathing normally, the inhale is usually shorter than the exhale, but in ujjayi breath both the inhale and the exhale are the same length. The aim, according to Patanjali in the yoga sutras, is that the breath should be long and smooth, and it has been suggested that over time the length of the inhale and exhale should increase.
The continuous flow of breath in and out of the body is very important for the strong physical practice of ashtanga, helping prana flow within the body, building the heat which is essential for the practice and calming the mind. Not only does it provide a point of focus for the mind, it gives you constant feedback. By being aware of the rhythm of the breath – or any unevenness or straining – you can tell when you are pushing too hard, struggling or perhaps just being lazy, sending you a signal to adjust your practice if needed.
Ujjayi Breath -by Andrea Brady-
Ujjayi breath is a fuel that feeds our internal fire, it creates heat within our bodies which we need to maintain to gain benefits from our practice and quiten our minds.
When done properly, Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breathing should be both energizing and relaxing. In the Yoga Sutra’s, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth). The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out.
The tip of the tongue must be placed on the roof of the mouth behind the teeth, the face should be soft, the corners of the mouth should be slightly upturned and after each breath there should be a micro pause at the top and the bottom. To begin with, it should be practiced from a comfortable crossed legged position.
Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras, rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The technique is very similar to the three-part
Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose. The “ocean sound” is created by moving the glottis as air passes in and out. As the throat passage is narrowed so, too, is the airway, the passage of air through which creates a “rushing” sound. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening of which is, in part, the purpose of ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration, breath is power yet not force.
Having this audible breath many believe, allows the mind to connect to the breath. It should be deep and rhythmic to allow us to follow and focus. It acts almost like an inernal mechanism which calms the body, soothes the nervous system, strengthens the diaphragm, calms, oxygenates and creates the internal heat we need for our practice.
So as the breath is a guide for our practice, if we apply too much it will become constricted or forced, if we apply too little it may be drowned out with our own thoughts. Awareness of the breath is the key. The mind becomes focused and calm as each pose flows into the next in concert with the breath, it is ultimately the link between body and mind.
Ujjayi Breath -by Shikma Jacoby-
The way we breathe while practicing Yoga is very different to the way we usually breathe. While practicing Yoga we use a spacial breathing technic called ‘Ujjayi Breath’.
The way to apply Ujjayi breathing is by breathing through our nose only and engaging the muscles at top of our throat as if we are trying to narrow them. This can be achieved by placing the tip of the tongue on the front of the roof of the mouth, slightly rising the lips as if we are about to smile and activating the muscles we use to swallow but without swallowing. While doing so we should hear an ocean like sound. This is the sound of Ujjayi breathing.
The air itself should go first straight to the lower belly and then up to the rib cage and finally to the throat and out of the body.
Ujjayi breath helps us regulate the length of each breath keeping the inhalation and exhalation equal and keeping the breath circulated, this gives us the energy we need for the physical practice.
It as well helps produce internal heat which is a very important aspect of the practice, giving the muscles a correct and gradual stretch.
Ujjayi breathing might be hard for people with low blood pressure, due to the narrowing of the throat less amount of oxygen is entering the body with each inhalation, which causes dizziness and weakness. It might take longer for people with low blood pressure to get use to Ujjayi breathing but with practice the body will adjust.
Throughout the practice our breath should be synchronised with the the posture we are doing, when ‘opening’ the body we inhale and when ‘closing’ we exhale.
By this action of surfing on the waves of the breath together with the unique sound of Ujjai breath we can maintain a rhythm which helps reaching a meditative state- the key to the Ashtanga Yoga practice.
Ujjayi Breath -by Rebecca Minor-
Ujjayi breathing may be activated in many yoga styles, especially Ashtanga Vinyasa in which it is used throughout the practice in association with the asana. Ujjayi breathing, within this style of yoga, is a fundamental technique along with activating the bandhas and the drishti. The Ujjayi breath, translated as Victorious, is often referred to as the ‘ocean breath’ due to the sound made when in use.
Some of the benefits of using Ujjayi breathing throughout your yoga practice include creating heat within the body, oxygenating the blood and muscles, creating a rhythm for your practice, eliminating toxins, regulating the flow of prana and calming the brain and mind. By using the Ujjayi breath during yoga practice it helps to focus the mind for gaining a meditative state whilst at the same time giving the body energy for the asana practice. When Ujjayi breathing is mastered along with the bandha locks and the dristhi, it is said that a true moving meditation can be found.
To practice Ujjayi breathing both the inhale and exhale must be through the nose with the mouth closed. Whilst doing this, the back of the throat is slightly restricted and the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth above the back of your top teeth. The inhale and exhale during Ujjayi breathing should be the same length, for example breathing in and out both for the count of 5. The length can vary depending on the person and their ability to breathe in and out for a longer count. It is said to help with Ujjayi breathing you should say ‘saaaaa’ on the inhale and ‘haaaaa’ on the exhale. Once the breathing practice is correct you will create an audible oceanic breathing sound.
The breath helps to guide us through our practice and being aware of your breathing can help to better the practice, helping to reach a meditative flow throughout.
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